Knicks are trading former lottery pick and fan favorite Obi Toppin to Pacers, AP source says


NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks are trading Obi Toppin to the Indiana Pacers, dealing away a former lottery pick who was loved by fans but never as much by coach Tom Thibodeau.

The Knicks will get back two second-round picks, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press on Saturday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade is not yet official.

It was first reported by ESPN.

Toppin was the No. 8 pick in the 2020 draft after winning national player of the year honors at Dayton. But when that season ended early and his first professional one was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toppin lost out on vital time to expand his skills and earn Thibodeau’s confidence.

He was also stuck playing behind All-Star Julius Randle, so playing time was hard to come by. Toppin made only 15 starts in his three seasons in New York.

Fans desperately wanted more, often chanting his name at Madison Square Garden in hopes of seeing the acrobatic forward who won the 2022 NBA All-Star slam dunk contest. But Toppin never averaged more than about 17 minutes per game. He scored a career-high 9.0 points per game in the 2021-22 season.

He would have been eligible for an extension on his rookie contract, but trading him allows the Knicks to avoid having to make that decision.

Toppin had his best game of the season against the Pacers in the regular-season finale, after starting the final five games following Randle’s sprained ankle. Toppin scored a season-high 34 points and tied his season best with seven rebounds in that loss.

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